Thursday, July 2, 2009

What Should I Have Done?

I think I fouled up today.

Our community has free lunches in the park every weekday through the summer. It's some kind of extension of the free and reduced lunches during the school year. There is a park about three blocks from my house where the school lunch ladies set up their tables, so we go nearly every day. Many of my friends and their children also come to lunch at the park. We usually pick a shady spot and visit while the kids have a casual picnic together.

There is a kind of creepy guy that goes to my church. He is about my age, has two young boys and never comes to church with his wife (if there is one). The problem is that he is too familiar with me; says things like, after looking me up and down, "You look cute." He just makes me feel uncomfortable.

Today, I arrive at the park to find that none of my friends are there. As we pull our bikes up under a tree, Creepy Guy waves to me. Oh, no. I think. What do I do? I would definitely feel uncomfortable sitting alone with him. Frankly, there are very few men with whom I would feel comfortable sitting alone--a list mostly comprised of my brothers and uncles.

There wasn't a whole lot of room in "his" shady spot so I walked a bit farther and sat alone. Within moments three families from church arrived and sat by me. There is no way he couldn't have noticed.

I feel terrible. I don't think he is predatory. If I had known others were on their way I would have been fine sitting with him--and the group.

What should I have done?

7 comments:

  1. does it drive you crazy that i never use capital letters when typing? anyways. hard to say what the right thing to do in that situation is. maybe he thought you were sitting in a larger area because you knew your friends were coming, or maybe it looked like your kids picked the spot. i think the bottom line is: if you feel uncomfortable in that creeped out kind of way, don't worry about hurting feelings. we have those instincts for a reason. p.s. i'm going crazy trying to figure out who it is. p.p.s. i looked up some info. on that book. i am excited to read it and have plans to go to the library to check it out. and it is just "bell"

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  2. um...you are a mother and a protector...

    I do not care about being nice when someone gives me the hibby jeebies (spell check anyone)

    seriously. I know too much...I cordially smile and get as far far away as possible- the small still voice is telling you something...

    If I am at a grocery store and a freaky man makes some kind of comment at my daughter I am known to glare or make a "don't mess with me or my children" remark.

    I hear the more confident you are the more you become unattractive to personalities of the such...who knows- but don't mess with me- don't mess with my children.

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  3. You did the right thing--You were polite, but distant. Exactly what you need to be around people like that.

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  4. I have learned to trust my instincts. I think that the Spirit can enlighten our minds in matters as important as protecting our children.

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  5. My guess is that on some level he *knows* that he makes you uncomfortable, but keeps doing what he does. Which means that he doesn't much care what you think. So you can just go ahead and return the favor.

    What advice would you give your kids? To go by themselves and sit by the creepy guy and be nice to him? Heck, no!

    You did the right thing. Gold star for you today!

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  6. so weird, Emily, similar happened to me. Was at the park with the kids, some random guy came and sat down the bench (other end luckily) and started asking questions about the kids, etc. A little weird, single guy at the park. Anyway, I casually said we moved to the area because my HUSBAND got a job. Shortly after that he left. Not sure if I was beign too over-sensitive, but I'm willing to take that risk. My opinion is, if he's making you uncomfortable, he needs to figure that out. If he doesn't get that he's making you uncomfortable, then he probably doesn't get that you are trying to avoid him either.

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  7. I think if you felt uncomfortable then you did the right thing.

    But, I also think that sometimes the situation as a whole needs to be taken into consideration. In my last ward there was a stay at home dad (the mom/wife is in the military and couldn't get out. They knew that having a parent being the full time caregiver was better than daycare). The dad came to the relief society organized play groups and lunches. A couple of the women decided they didn't like a man being at these gatherings, and didn't like the idea that he and his wife had reversed the roles and went to the bishop and said they worried he might be a child molester (the only "evidence" being that he came to gatherings with lots of kids and women).

    The bishop is legally obligated to act when an accusation of child abuse is made. So, this poor guy (who is a very kind man with no malicious intentions) had to deal with an investigation. Even though the investigation found that he was totally innocent and that the suspicion was unfounded, it has had lasting effects.

    First, he became very lonely and isolated--just like a stay at home mom would be--stuck at home with 4 children under the age of 5 and being excluded from social situations with other parents and kids from church.

    They recently moved into our new ward, as did one of the accusing women (the military is like that--no matter how often you move, you're bound to know someone in the new ward). Anyway, he and his wife and kids stopped attending church when the accuser moved in because the hurt was still pretty raw even after 4 years. (I realize that the choice to become inactive over this is exactly that--their choice--but it could have been avoided if a couple of women had shown a little charity to a dad struggling to do the best for his kids).

    Again, if this man is overly familiar with you and makes you uncomfortable, then you did exactly the right thing. I'm just pointing out that sometimes people can take things too far simply because the situation isn't "normal" to them.

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